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Student Development Theory Evolution: A collections of theories related to college students that explain how they grow and develop complexity in college. (Student Development in College, 2016, Patton et al.).

  • 1920's Guidance Movement

    1920's Guidance Movement
    Colleges and universities provided vocational guidance as students sought occupational security in business and industry, aka jobs (p. 9).
  • Assessment Tools Needed

    Assessment Tools Needed
    Representatives from 14 higher education institutions met to discuss vocational guidance problems, post-WWI.
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    Critical Theory

    Critical theory assumes that power and systems of oppression shape reality. Beginning in 1930's Germany by sociologists, critical theory has given way to feminist theory, Black feminist theory, critical race theory, indigenous theories, critical trans politics and intersectionality (p.12).
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    1937-1949 Student Personnel Point of View

    Post-WWI led to increased enrollment which brought about special assessment tools. This led to American Council of Education to note that it was the responsibility of higher education to guide the "whole person" to reach their potential and better society (p.10).
  • Theorist: Erikson

    Theorist: Erikson
    Erikson's eight stages of psychosocial development include trust vs. mistrust, autonomy vs. shame/doubt, initiative vs. guilt, industry vs. inferiority, identity vs. role confusion, intimacy vs. isolation, generativity vs. stagnation, and integrity vs. despair. Source:
  • Theorist: Jean Piaget

    Theorist: Jean Piaget
    Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development suggests that children move through four different stages of mental development. His theory focuses on understanding how children acquire knowledge and intelligence.
    Piaget believed that children take an active role in the learning process, acting much like little scientists as they perform experiments, make observations, and learn about the world. Source:
  • 1960-1970's Formal Statements Emerge

    1960-1970's Formal Statements Emerge
    COSPA and ACPA began to re-conceptualize the role and mission of student affairs and pushing for the developing of the whole student to be an institutional priority. (p.11) This led to defining the role of these professionals to include closing the gap between theory and practice when helping students reach their developmental goals. (p.11)
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    1960-1970's Early Student Development Theories Developed

    Student affairs and higher education shifted post-Vietnam War as the student body shifted from white males to include women and POC (p.12). Student affairs professionals recognized the limitations of the early theories in addressing diverse experiences of gender, race, ethnicity in higher ed as they primarily addressed white males from private institutions (p.13).
  • Theorist: Heath, R.

    Theorist: Heath, R.
    Focused on maturation in college students (p.12).
  • Theorist: Marcia

    Theorist: Marcia
    Built upon Erikson's work to investigate identity development in adolescence (p.13).
  • Theorist: Nevitt Sanford

    Theorist:  Nevitt Sanford
    Process of development as a function of cycles of differentiation and integration and of the need to balance adequate challenge with adequate support (pp. 12, 35).
  • Theorist: Perry

    Theorist: Perry
    Introduced a cognitive-structural theory of intellectual and ethical development of college students -this was used extensively in student affairs practice (p.13).
  • Theorist: Heath, D.

    Theorist: Heath, D.
    Focused on maturation of college students (p.12).
  • Theorist: Kohlberg

    Theorist: Kohlberg
    Kolb’s Theory of Experiential Learning
    Defined learning as the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience of experience. Learning is a four stage cycle
    Concrete experience: a feeling dimension
    Reflective observation: a watching dimension
    Abstract conceptualization: a thinking dimension
    Active experimentation: a doing dimension
  • Theorist: Feldman & Newcomb

    Theorist: Feldman & Newcomb
    Delineated the impact of peer group influence on individual students, including helping students accomplish family independence, facilitating the institutions intellectual goals, offering emotional support to students, etc. Their book: The Impact of College on Students was an important addition to the field of student affairs (p.12).
  • Theorist: Chickering

    Theorist: Chickering
    Chickering’s Theory of Identity Development
    Book: Education and Identity
    Seven Vectors: Developing Competence
    Managing Emotions
    Moving through Autonomy to Interdependence
    Developing Mature Interpersonal Relationships
    Establishing Identity
    Developing Purpose
    Developing Integrity
  • Theorist: Cross

    Theorist: Cross
    Model of Psychological Nigrescence Nigresescence is a “resocializing experience” in which the healthy individual’s identity is transformed from one of non-Afrocentrism to Afrocentrism to Multiculturalism. It happens in five stages
    Internalization-commitment (p.13)
  • Theorist: Banning & Kaiser

    Theorist: Banning & Kaiser
    Introduced a campus ecology model which focused on the interaction of the student and the campus setting (p. 13).
  • Theorist: Atkinson, Morten & Sue

    Theorist: Atkinson, Morten & Sue
    Minority Development Model - a model of racial identity development.
  • Theorist: Myers

    Theorist: Myers
    Myers-Briggs Type Indicator:
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    1980-1990's: Psychosocial & Cognitive Structural Theories

    Increase in theories built on earlier psychosocial and cognitive-structural theories but with a continued emphasis on addressing experiences and development of an increasingly diverse student population. Specifically around the order and sequence of student identity development (p.14).
  • Theorist: Kegan

    Theorist: Kegan
    Introduced a lifespan model of development that takes into account affective, interpersonal, and cognitive processes. Kegan focused on the evolution of self and how individuals make sense of their world, particularly their relationship with others (pp.15-16).
  • Theorist: Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberg & Tarule

    Theorist: Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberg & Tarule
    Women’s Way of Knowing
    Refers to the different ways of knowing as “perspectives” rather than stages. Categories may not be fixed, exhaustive or universal but are intentionally abstracted. The study of women at diverse ages, circumstances and outlooks and developed five ways in which women see the world.
    1. Silence
    2. Received knowledge
    3.Subjective knowledge
    4. Procedural knowledge
    5. Constructed knowledge
  • Theorist: Josselson

    Theorist: Josselson
    Josselson’s Theory of Identity Development in Women: Foreclosures
    Identity Achievements:
    Identity Diffusions:
  • 1990's: Social Identity Theories

    1990's: Social Identity Theories
    Theories grounded in the socio-historical context of the US emerge. These social identity theories examine the development of dominant and nondominant identities; privilege vs oppression (p.15). These social identity theories are present in contemporary student development conversations today.
  • Theorist: Baxter Magolda

    Theorist: Baxter Magolda
    Baxter Magolda’s Model of Epistemological Reflection Absolute knowing
    Receiving knowledge
    Mastering knowledge
    Transitional knowing
    Interpersonal knowing
    Impersonal knowing
    Independent knowing
    Contextual knowledge
  • Theorist: Reisser & Chickering

    Theorist: Reisser & Chickering
    Together revised Chickering's book Education and Identity to include updates to order and sequence of study identity development (p.14).
  • Theorist: Gilligan

    Theorist: Gilligan
    Gilligan’s Theory of Women’s Moral Development Orientation to individual survival
    Transition from selfishness to responsibility
    Goodness as self-sacrifice
    Transition from goodness to truth
    The morality of nonviolence
  • Theorist: King & Kitchener

    Theorist: King & Kitchener
    Knowledge is absolute & can be secured by observation.
    Knowledge is certain but may not be immediately accessible.
    Knowledge come from authorities & when it is uncertain, personal beliefs can be legitimate.
    Knowledge is uncertain.
    Knowledge is contextual & subjective since only interpretations of facts may be known.
    Knowledge is constructed into individual conclusion about problems.
    Knowledge results from a process of reasonable inquiry involving construction of solutions.
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    Integrative Approaches to Psychosocial, Cognitive and Affective Development

    Contemporary theorists maintain that it is not possible to separate cognitive and affective aspects of development and explore cognitive and psychosocial dimensions of identity and how these are interwoven through life (p. 15). Social identity (ethnicity, race, gender, sexual, religious...) integrate to create a whole (p. 15).
  • Theorist: Rest

    Theorist: Rest
    Introduced a neo-Kolbergian theory of moral development that is less rigid and more concrete that Kolberg's 1976 model (p.14).
  • Theorist: McEwan

    Theorist: McEwan
    Social Identity theory which examines the development of dominant and nondominant identities.
  • Theorist: Baxter Magolda

    Theorist: Baxter Magolda
    Learning Partnerships Model - makes explicit links between student development theories (self-authorship) and applications in curricular and co-curricular settings (p.16).
  • Theorist: Torres, Jones & Renn

    Theorist: Torres, Jones & Renn
    Social Identity theory which examines the development of dominant and nondominant identities plus examining how individuals move through stages of increasing complexity with regard to their self-evaluation (p.15).